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"FINDING DORY"
(2016) (voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks) (PG)


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QUICK TAKE:
Computer Animated Comedy/Adventure: A clownfish and his son try to find their friend, who suffers from short term memory loss, as she tries to find her long-lost parents.
PLOT:
A year or so after absent-minded blue tang Dory (voice of ELLEN DeGENERES) helped widowed clownfish Marlin (voice of ALBERT BROOKS) find his missing son, Nemo (voice of HAYDEN ROLENCE), they now live among the other denizens of the Great Barrier Reef. Yet, when serving as a teaching assistant with discussion of migrations of sea animals returning home, Dory -- who suffers from short term memory loss -- starts having memories of her parents, Jenny (voice of DIANE KEATON) and Charlie (voice of EUGENE LEVY). She hasn't seen either since childhood when she wandered off and ended up separated from them.

With fleeting memories about the name of her former home, Dory convinces a reluctant Marlin and a more willing Nemo to accompany her across the sea where they end up outside the Marine Life Institute, a public facility that rehabs injured sea animals before returning them to the ocean or, if that's not viable, to permanent aquarium facilities. After accidentally getting tangled up in a plastic tab holder, Dory is scooped up by workers there and put into quarantine.

She quickly learns the lay of the land after meeting Hank (voice of ED O'NEILL), a seven-legged octopus who doesn't want to be returned to the ocean and instead desires for a peaceful existence in a Cleveland aquarium facility. But to get there, he needs the quarantine tag that Dory is wearing and agrees to try to help her find her parents in exchange for that. At the same time, Marlin and Nemo get help from two lazy sea lions, Fluke (voice of IDRIS ELBA) and Rudder (voice of DOMINIC WEST), who are quite possessive of their sun basking rock, as well as a non-talking and somewhat kooky loon named Becky.

With them helping from the outside, Dory also gets assistance on the inside not only from Hank, but also a nearsighted whale shark, Destiny (voice of KAITLIN OLSON), and a beluga whale, Bailey (voice of TY BURRELL), who's having problems with his echolocation. As she tries to find her parents, Marlin and Nemo try to find and rescue her.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
Unlike TV shows that thrive on telling the continuing stories of their characters and thus usually grow in terms of depth and viewer engagement through progressive episodes and seasons, the vast majority of movies are -- or at least should be -- destined to be one-offs.

Yes, there are pre-planned trilogies and some movie series that buck the usual trend of diminishing returns and actually get better through their sequels. But most are little more than obvious cash grabs that, more often than not, sully the reputation of the original pic and everything that made it good and beloved by audiences.

All of which meant I had my concerns upon first hearing about and then finally sitting down to watch "Finding Dory," the sequel to the excellent and universally beloved "Finding Nemo."

After all, while Pixar got it right with its two sequels to "Toy Story," the results weren't as good with the single follow-ups to "Cars" and "Monsters, Inc." Would we get a worthy continuation of the story and its characters or a lackluster, unwanted and/or mediocre experience?

Well, while it might not quite match up to the overall beginning to end brilliance of "Nemo," "Dory" is a well-made, entertaining and certainly enjoyable film for viewers of all ages.

Taking up around a year after the conclusion of the last film where an absent-minded blue tang (terrifically voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) helped a worry-wart clownfish father (Albert Brooks) find his missing titular son (Alexander Gould in the original, Hayden Rolence here), the plot this time around -- as the title would suggest -- has Dory ending up missing (at least from the two clownfish).

That stems from her suddenly having memories of her parents from back when she was a child, including some brief flashback moments along with fractured bits about where they lived. Accordingly, she convinces Marlin and Nemo to accompany her across the sea for a marine animal sanctuary to try to find them. But then they're separated and -- like before -- the story splits into two concurrent segments where the main characters in each encounter new characters and adventures along the way.

While that setup and resultant storyline don't end up as complex as what occurred in the original, returning writer/director Andrew Stanton and new co-writer Victoria Strouse make all of it work, mixing humor, adventure, some pathos, moments of peril and good messages into a satisfying concoction.

As before, the vocal work is terrific (beyond those returning, Ed O'Neil is a delight voicing a seven-legged octopus -- a scene stealer who I wouldn't be surprised should he get his own spin-off film), as is the computer-generated animation that's incredibly lush and beautiful to behold while still remaining kid friendly and accessible.

Whether you're a big fan of the first film or -- somehow -- are new to this world and its characters, I don't think you'll be disappointed in this follow-up. "Finding Dory" rates as a 7 out of 10.




Reviewed June 9, 2016 / Posted June 17, 2016


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